Primeval 5.06 TV REVIEW

Future imperfect

Steve Bailie, Adrian Hodges
Director: Cilla Ware

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THE ONE WHERE Philip’s New Dawn goes out of control.

VERDICT About 20 minutes into the final episode (ever?) of Primeval the plot suddenly stops. Oh, sure, more stuff happens. Some of it spectacular. Some of it emotional. Some of it tense. Some of it funny. But from the moment that Philip’s mega-anomaly starts grow, the story is nothing more than series of delaying tactics to prevent the resolution happening before the last ad break. Which makes for a passable action/adventure knockabout, but disappoints as a satisfyingly dramatic conclusion to the season. Where are the twists? Where are the surprises? Where are the revelations? Oh yeah, there is the one at the very, very end, when another future Matt turns up and implies that maybe things haven’t all been as neatly tied up as we thought. But as you can’t help feeling it’s unlikely we’ll ever see where that plot thread might be heading, it’s hard to care.

It’s a shame, because the previous two episodes seemed to be building to something jawdropping. Instead, this finale is woefully predictable. The visit to the future proves pointless. It doesn’t reveal anything we couldn’t have pieced together from what we already knew and the fact that it’s such a drab location doesn’t help. Back in the present, events unfold pretty much as Matt has been predicting all series, so no surprises there. Philip’s change of heart is understandable (no matter what a bastard he was, he never intended to destroy the world) but stiflingly undramatic – he sits on a step and looks like he’s been scolded by his mum. Once his sacrifice has failed, the episode pads out much of its final third with lots of creeping around darkened corridors, as a contrived threat tries to prevent the heroes from getting their hands on the technobabble solution too early.

This is a harsh assessment, sure. The episode’s rarely dull, and has some flashes of greatness. Connor and Abby’s proposal is really sweet. Lester is as entertaining as ever. The apocalyptic FX are magnificent.

But the problems all stem from missed opportunities. Why introduce such a promising character as Emily if all she’s going to do is whimper after Matt? Why travel to a future that has no secrets to reveal? Why introduce the idea that the world now knows about the dinosaurs and anomalies then do nothing with it? Why introduce the potential time anomalies inherent in Matt’s plans and then just ignore them? It’s like the show keep promising intriguing plot lines it has no intention of following up. Instead it seems happy to settle for dull competency, or scared to push itself too far.

Is this the last we’ll see of Primeval ? Hopefully not, because there is still potential in this show; potential it began tapping in these last two season more than ever before with some impressive results. And also because the show deserves a better send off than this. However, you can’t help feeling that it’s time has come.

MONSTERS OF THE WEEK Future predators

HUH? There are a couple of moments that we hesitate to call bloopers, but which really don’t make much sense. Two episodes back (the one with the beetles), Connor implied nothing large could emerge from his mini-anomaly, yet here at least two pretty hefty future predators somehow manage to squeeze through (and the mini-anomaly doesn’t seem to have grown at all). Secondly, if Abby is using loud music to scramble the predators’ sonar senses, how come the creature’s POV shot still clearly shows human shapes moving around? And why did the future predator just freeze? Surely it’d be confused and blindly lashing about?

BEST LESTER MOMENTS Either, “I think we should keep the whole ‘man from the future’ thing just between ourselves, don’t you? The minister’s confused enough as it is.” Or, “Only two people have got that number. One’s the minister. The other’s my wife. Either way, I think I’m in for an earful.”

Matt 2: “Go back. You have to go back.”

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